Learning by the Back Door

Click on the image for a slideshow
Click on the image for a slideshow

Monday saw the P 3,4,5 composite class from Athelstaneford spend the day out on the hills behind their school – the fantastic Garleton Hills. After spending an hour planning their journey within the classroom – what to pack; weather forecasting; route choice; distance and timings – we were able to walk from the classroom, out of the back door and straight up into the Garleton Hills.

We spent the day looking at past and present land use of East Lothian; map reading and navigation (following on from a previous orienteering session with some pupils); one or two bushcraft skills.

Over lunch the pupils erected a teepee and set a fire going so we could all have a cup of hot chocolate in a communal atmosphere. We had our lunch on the site of a former fort – a fabulous location with views that meant we were able to pick out the Isle of May; Lomond Hills; Bass Rock; Dunbar church; Fidra – to name but a few. Our ordnance survey maps that we had been studying in the classroom at the start of the day suddenly came to life.

Our original plan had been to make it all the way to the Hopetoun Monument, however our plans were changed as a fantastic learning opportunity occurred towards the end of the day concerning risk management!

Some children are making plans themselves to take their parents up to the Hopetoun Monument to ‘complete’ their walk.

River Deep, Mountain High

More appropriate title would be Stream Shallow, Valley Steep.

We had the pleasure of working with a select group of students from Ross High. They are currently undertaking their John Muir Award – Discovery Level. The programme is running in conjunction with East Lothian Ranger Service. This morning  was designed to enable the pupils to get up close and personal with a steep sided valley and appreciate the erosive froces at work throughout the valley. We chose to go to Bilsdean so that we could have a fire on the beach for hot drinks for our midmorning break.

In the very bottom of the valley
In the very bottom of the valley

Click on photo for more images.

The pupils have some more fantastic sessions with the Ranger service before returning to the Outdoor Education service to explore a wild place by canoe.

Gone with the Wind

Ripping up the sand at Belhaven Bay - click on photo to see more windy action!
Ripping up the sand at Belhaven Bay - click on photo to see more windy action!

On Saturday we ran a very successful Blokarting course for East Lothian Staff. The staff that took part in the course got to grips with sailing the Blokarts very quickly and made the most of some excellent wind strength and direction on the beach at Belhaven.

The purpose of the course is: showcase equipment available here at Outdoor Ed; to encourage teachers to look at more energetic ways of teaching/learning; to raise teaching staff’s adventure threshold (thereby encouraging them to be more adventurous with their pupils); to have a fun day.

Subsequent to this course participants can now use the Blokarts personally and after logged experience can assist in the delivery of learning through the medium of Blokarting. (Forces/technology/weather systems etc).

Some useful websites that were used during the course   

www.xcweather.co.uk ; met office ; metcheck ; magicseaweed

Kayaking indoors

After the closure of Mercat Gait pool before Christmas for essential repairs and school closures due to the snow it was great to finally begin kayak pool sessions with Preston Lodge High.

The kayak pool sessions run from 1215 to 1315 every Friday. Preston Lodge staff that have recently achieved their BCU UKCC (British Canoe Union UK Coaching Certificate) Level 1 Coach Award are now delivering sessions under the guidance of OE staff in order to be able to deliver sessions on their own. Pupils that come along to the sessions can hopefully follow the excellent paddlepower scheme – providing progression and rewarding achievement.

The pool sessions will lead to pupils honing their skills for paddling expeditions in the summer term – both sea kayaking and canoe.

It has been great to have the continued support of the pool staff welcoming kayaks into the pool. Together we are investigating the possibility of permanent storage for some pool kayaks outside the pool. Perhaps we can then encourage the development of a Kayak/Canoe Club in the Prestonpans/Musselburgh area or development of school canoe polo teams.

We can now look forward to many fun Friday afternoons developing skills.

Primary Orienteering Competition

This years primary orienteering competition will take place on Wednesday 10th February 2010. As usual it is open to all primary schools in East Lothian. It would be truly fantastic to have every primary school represented.

The competition will take place at John Muir Country Park, Hedderwick Hill.

There will be two trophies up for grabs. A P4/5 trophy and a P6/7 trophy. Last years winners were Gullane (6/7) and Stoneyhill (4/5).

All competitors for the P6/7 trophy must compete solo and all competitors for the P4/5 trophy must compete as pairs.

Please make sure that your primary school has an entry. Please complete the entry form here and e-mail to Martyn before January 2010



Each school must make their own transport arrangements to John Muir Country Park. All entries will close at the end of January and on this date registration arrival times will be published for each school. It will be between 0930 and 1230. We hope to have the primary competition finished by 1330.

If you require any more details or information then please contact Martyn at the Outdoor Education Service

mpegg@eastlothian.gov.uk 01875 616690